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Speedo’s space age swimsuit set for take off March 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business, Fashion.
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To celebrate its 80th anniversary, Speedo, the world’s leading swimwear brand has launched Speedo LZR Racer suit, which independent testing has shown to be the world’s fastest swimsuit.

Speedo has harnessed the expertise of the United States space agency NASA amongst a number of international research institutes to create a faster suit which has 10% less passive drag than Speedo’s Fastskin FSII launched in 2004 and 5% less passive drag than Speedo FS-PRO, which was launched in March 2007 and has seen swimmers break 21 World records as a result.

19-03-08_speedo.jpg  Made from an ultra lightweight, low drag, water repellent, fast drying fabric, unique to Speedo, called LZR Pulse, the LZR Racer is the world’s first fully bonded swimsuit that is ultrasonically welded and gives the effect of no seams at all. Ultra low drag LZR Panels are embedded into the base fabric to create a ‘Hydro Form Compression system’ helping to compress the entire swimmer’s body into a more streamlined shape and enabling them to cut through the water with more power and agility.

“When I hit the water, I feel like a rocket”, says Michael Phelps, holder of six World records, who has been involved in the development and will be sporting the LZR Racer suit as he sets out to achieve a world record breaking 8 gold medals later this year. “I can’t wait to race in it – this is going to take the sport of swimming to a new level”.

His comments, echoed by other elite swimmers, are gratifying for Speedo’s research and development team, Aqualab, who have spent more than three years in intensive research and development to create their most hydro-dynamically advanced swimsuit to date.

Speedo scanned the bodies of more than 400 elite swimmers and held technical tests involving more than 100 different fabrics and suit designs in the world’s leading flume and test centres. Their quest to enable swimmers to swim faster than ever before, took them all over the world from the NASA Langley Research Centre to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Otago University in New Zealand and working with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software from ANSYS, Inc., whose technology is also used in F1 motor racing and America’s Cup yachting.

The result is an engineered swimsuit whose 3D anatomical shape has a Core Stabiliser with a corset-like grip to support and hold the swimmer so they can maintain the best body position in the water for longer without losing freedom or flexibility of movement.

The LZR Racer suit’s unique design also provides swimmers with up to 5% more efficiency in terms of their Oxygen intake, enabling them to swim stronger for longer. “It makes it easier to swim faster,” says Rick Sharp, Exercise Physiologist, Iowa State University.

The Speedo LZR Racer suit has been declared ‘out of this world’ by swimmers involved in its development and testing. “It’s like swimming downhill” says World record holder, Libby Lenton (AUS). According to Women’s World and Olympic backstroke champion, Natalie Coughlin (USA), “It’s super tight but it really feels like part of your body when you put it on”, while double Olympic champion Grant Hackett (AUS) comments “It’s the best suit yet and looks like something out of a futuristic movie.”

The unique ‘space age’ design of the Speedo LZR Racer suit brings about another world first – where elite performance meets avant-garde fashion, through the involvement of international fashion label Comme des Garçons whose founder Rei Kawakubo formed a key part of the design team.

Her striking design on the side panel of the suit incorporates the character ‘kokoro’ meaning Heart, Mind, Spirit, by celebrated Japanese calligrapher, Inoue Yu-ichi. Kawakubo said: “When we come to combine the development of the highest technology that is the realm of Speedo, with the force and spirit of the art of Yu-ichi, records will surely be broken.”

Speedo co-President, David Robinson said: “Speedo has been leading the world in swimwear design since 1928 and our commitment to innovation in design and technology is the backbone to everything we do. We are particularly proud, in our 80th year, to be launching the Speedo LZR Racer which has broken new boundaries in performance swimwear and which we know will help elite athletes achieve their ultimate performances in 2008. It’s our 80th birthday present to the world of swimming.”

The Speedo LZR Racer suit, which has been approved by FINA (Fédération International de Natation Amateur), will debut at national trials around the world from March 2008. A retail version of the suit will go on sale in May 2008.

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Air Berlin concludes takeover deal for Condor September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business.
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Air Berlin PLC has agreed with Thomas Cook AG to a two-step acquisition of the shares of Condor Flugdienst GmbH by means of a share swap.

On February 10, 2009, Air Berlin will acquire the 75.1% share Thomas Cook holds in Condor. The remaining 24.9% will be acquired in February 2010, subsequent to Thomas Cook acquiring the stake Lufthansa AG in February 2009 by exercising a purchase option.

In return for its share in Condor, Thomas Cook will receive Air Berlin shares to be issued, which, depending on the market quotation at the time the agreement is implemented, are valued at 380 million to 475 million euros. In the process, Thomas Cook is likely to acquire an interest of up to 29.99% in Air Berlin.

The acquisition of the Condor shares is subject to approval by the competent regulatory authorities, but the deall is still subject to Lufthansa not exercising a contractual pre-emption right. Subsequent to the closing of the first step, Thomas Cook will be represented on the board of directors of Air Berlin PLC.

Air Berlin estimates that the synergies resulting from a successful takeover will amount to at least 70 million euros per year.

Storefronts > Le Sabon July 24, 2007

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At first blush, this store’s tasteful chandeliers and fancy pottery accents, visible from the street, made me somewhat nervous. Such a beautiful retail setting usually indicates that its products will be expensive, its staff will be cold, and you will be judged on your shoes, hair and wardrobe.

Turns out this is not true of the elegant but down-to-earth Le Sabon, which sells bath and body products made with Dead Sea minerals. The store’s name is Hebrew for “to soap up” or “to lather up,” and owner Sara Kety-Elias, 42, welcomes customers to try its products at two sinks in the back of the shop.

This is an edge over a department store, Kety-Elias says, where “you only know a product if you read about it in a magazine, heard a recommendation from a friend or believe a salesperson.” The Teaneck store is Kety-Elias’ second retail venture; there has been a Le Sabon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 2004.

Kety-Elias came up with the idea for Le Sabon after visits to Israel during which she regularly purchased Dead Sea minerals to bring home as gifts. Today, her stores are “not only for profit”, 10 percent of her profits go to charities that promote peace in Israel. The products are diverse and unusual; they are classy, elegant and luxurious without being fussy. Kety-Elias created Le Sabon with real women and an affordable price in mind.

“Teenagers come in, and their first reaction is: ‘My mom would love this store!’ ” she says. “They sense that it’s a more mature product.”

One popular item, CandleLotion, has “wax” that is actually moisturizing soybean oil. CandleLotion is available in 20 scents, and it’s the only product that also comes unscented; Kety-Elias hopes to have that option for most or all items by summer.

The smallest CandleLotion, a tealight, costs $3.50. A 4-ounce candle is $24; a 12-ounce candle is $48. Body scrub, made from Dead Sea salt, costs $28 for a small jar and $58 for a large one. Shower mousse, which can be used as a soap, moisturizer and shaving lotion, costs $20. Traveling candles come in a plethora of scents and rest comfortably in glossy leather carrying cases that snap shut and can be reused. Small stuffed animals with the softest fur I’ve ever felt cost $10.

Le Sabon gift-wraps all purchases. Products are sprinkled with potpourri, confetti, paper shavings or other enhancements, wrapped in cellophane, tied with a bow, and placed in an attractive pink bag.

The store’s return policy is seven days with a receipt for cash, though she says you can count on one hand the number of returns to her Manhattan store. Exchanges for other scents are welcomed indefinitely as long as the product is unused. Le Sabon is hosting free after-hours Spa Nights by appointment only, when groups of up to 15 can sample products while enjoying wine and cheese. Massage therapy also is available for a price.

The W’s >
What: A bath and body shop with products of unique origin.
Where: 509A Cedar Lane, Teaneck, (201) 692-0008.
When: Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The owner keeps Sabbath, so Friday and Saturday hours fluctuate depending on the season.
Web: www.lesabon.com.

Barry Callebaut and Hershey in strategic agreement July 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business, Chocolate.
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Barry Callebaut will start to operate the leased chocolate-making equipment at the Hershey factory in Robinson in September. In addition it will build a factory in Monterrey, Mexico, and supply liquid chocolate to The Hershey Company.

Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, and The Hershey Company, North America’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and confectionery products, have announced that they have entered into agreements for a strategic supply and innovation partnership. In May 2007, the parties announced their intention to enter into these agreements. Barry Callebaut will start liquid chocolate and finished product deliveries to Hershey within the next few months.

Richard H. Lenny, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey Company, said, “We look forward to working with Barry Callebaut to expand our growth in the global chocolate market and to deliver superior new product innovation. Barry Callebaut is a worldwide leader in premium chocolate and innovation, and this alliance provides Hershey with immediate access to these capabilities.”

Patrick De Maeseneire, Chief Executive Officer of Barry Callebaut, said, “I am very pleased that we have successfully completed this agreement with Hershey. The agreement will transform our business in the Americas by significantly increasing our production capacities for chocolate and by optimizing our operational setup in the region. We expect to supply about 80,000 metric tonnes to Hershey per year. The transaction is again evidence of the ongoing outsourcing trend in the chocolate industry, which I think is only just beginning. Barry Callebaut is well positioned to further benefit from this development. We also look forward to working closely with Hershey on innovation activities that will help drive growth in the global chocolate market.”

Barry Callebaut will start to operate the leased chocolate-making equipment at the Hershey factory in Robinson, Ill., at the beginning of September, producing chocolate ingredients for Hershey products. In addition, Barry Callebaut will build a factory in Monterrey, Mexico, and supply liquid chocolate to The Hershey Company. This factory is expected to be operational by summer 2008 and will also supply to other customers.

The companies will partner on research and development activities with a focus on driving innovation in new chocolate taste experiences, premium chocolate, health and wellness, ingredient research and optimization.

The two companies also will work together on efforts aimed at building a sustainable cocoa supply, including the World Cocoa Foundation’s Sustainable Tree Crops Program, the International Cocoa Initiative Foundation and industry efforts to implement a certification system in West Africa. Hershey will also participate in Barry Callebaut’s proprietary corporate social responsibility and sustainable cocoa-bean sourcing programs.

CED Corp to acquire Parliament Vodka July 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business, Drinks & Beverages.
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Central European Distribution Corporation signs Binding Letter to acquire Parliament Vodka > The LOI is subject to execution of a definitive acquisition agreement, which would be subject to customary closing conditions, including CEDC board approval.

Central European Distribution Corporation announced that it has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) to acquire a significant majority interest in a company holding various alcoholic beverage production and distribution assets which include the number one selling premium vodka brand in Russia, Parliament Vodka.

The LOI is subject to execution of a definitive acquisition agreement, which would be subject to customary closing conditions, including CEDC board approval. The acquisition is expected to close within the next 6 months and will be financed through a combination of cash, debt and equity.

William Carey, President and CEO, commented: “This is an excellent opportunity for CEDC to take its first step in the largest vodka market in the world, Russia. The Russian spirits market continues to experience a premiumization effect, backed by the strong growth of the local economy, in which the consumer continues to trade up to premium brands. The Parliament brand has continued to outperform the market with an expected 2007 volume growth of over 25% with expected sales of 2.6 million 9 liter cases.

William Carey continued, “The company has national sales reach with over 200 salesmen who cover almost all regions of Russia. This strong local distribution platform gives us the opportunity to not only grow the existing business but also expand sales with new brands both local and imported. We would expect this acquisition, if completed, to be accretive to earnings on an annualized basis by $0.10 to $0.20 per fully diluted share.”